Reflections on Encounters: Kent 2019

By Ellis Spicer

It was a warm day in Canterbury, summer Encounters are often blessed by the weather, so I’ve been told. And it wasn’t just any Encounters, but CHASE DTP Director Denise Decaires Narain’s final stint in her role.

The programme was as varied as it was interesting, giving massive attention to and focus on the student-led sessions such as ‘Researching distressing topics’, decolonising the curriculum, the Diversity in Body and Mind Group and the Feminist Network to name but a few. But interspersed throughout these specialist break out sessions was an awful lot of fun, frivolity and room for thought, such as cohort building activities in Canterbury City Centre and on campus, mindfulness, art and pets as therapy but also skills based endeavours such as ‘how to shut up and write’ or ‘how to tame your supervisor’. There really was ‘something for everyone’ and for the next few weeks we will be illustrating the wide variety of sessions offered in a series of special posts. If anyone is interested in writing a post about an aspect of Encounters feel free to get in touch via

The key strengths of Encounters this year for me was the commitment from the CHASE organising committee to inclusivity in not just words but in their actions. Outlining the use of the quiet room for feelings of being overwhelmed and needing some reflective time and not to work was greatly welcomed by the cohort at large. The previous Encounters at the Barbican had led to some people choosing to work in the silent spaces, and it was great to see a separate room commandeered for this reason. Furthermore, a statement from Denise as CHASE Director pledged commitment to inclusivity in all forms not just in Encounters but as a central point of the CHASE ethos. We as a committee would like to echo her heartfelt sentiments and convey how our blog aims to showcase the diverse range of life experience, backgrounds and preferences within CHASE.

The emphasis on student works in progress and research at the start of each day was truly impressive and allowed us a small insight into other work going on within CHASE. Whilst we have our own fields and expertise, it is fascinating to see the passion with which other students talk about their work. We would encourage any students who haven’t done so yet to volunteer to talk about your research in the next Encounters. Sharing research in these collaborative and interdisciplinary spaces couldn’t be more important, and potentially enables us to formulate contacts away from our fields based on other lines of similarity that unites our individual research.

On a final note, we as a Committee would like to record our thanks to the organisers of Encounters for all their hard work, with particular thanks to Emily Bartlett, Kathryn Gjorgjiev, Steve Colburn, Clare Hunt, Rob Witts and Denise Decaires Narain for their hard work and commitment to such a varied and engaging programme. Our final thanks go to Denise as outgoing Director for the support and enthusiasm she has shown for the work of the Student Committee. The heartfelt messages circulated in our green notebooks as a gift to her shows just how much she will be missed.

Tune in next week where we will have further reflections on Encounters in more specific detail. And as always, if you wish to write a blog post for us on any topic or join our committee, please do get in touch via